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October 20, 2016
by May De Jesus-Palacpac

The Housewife at Doña Elena Al Dente Pasta month 2016

Doña Elena Al Dente Pasta Month 2016, or I would say, pasta appreciation month, was held at Mercato in BGC last October 15. If you haven’t been to Mercato, it’s a popular weekend outdoor food place. Something like a food bazaar. We sometimes walk over there to buy barbecue and other grilled stuff.

I wanted to check out the participants’ pasta dishes in the Ultimate Pasta Challenge to see if there’s a new recipe I can try to recreate at home. Not that I’m bored or anything with the pasta dishes I know, but it’s nice to cook something new once in a while.

(READ: Donna’s lasagna featuring Dona Elena’s Al Dente Lasagna)

Passport to eat

I was handed a “passport” that gave me pretty much the license to try the participants’ dishes. The passport also had vote stubs attached to them so we can put them in the jars of the ones we’re voting for.

The Cathedral. #aldentepastamonth2016 #doñaelena @donaelenacuisineraclub @mommybloggersphilippines

A photo posted by May De Jesus-Palacpac (@fullyhousewifed) on

Anyway, I heard that the colosseum received the most votes. Drats! I wanted the gondola to win.

Coliseum pasta art. #aldentepastamonth2016 #doñaelena @donaelenacuisineraclub @mommybloggersphilippines

A photo posted by May De Jesus-Palacpac (@fullyhousewifed) on

October 10, 2016
by May De Jesus-Palacpac

Doing the laundry with Smart Steps

I wasn’t sure at first why I said yes to trying out Smart Steps for our laundry. After all, my youngest is already 5 years old and I had the impression that the products were “only good for babies,” which is silly, actually, because we always assume that anything “baby-friendly” are only for babies.

Other than the lovely powdery scent, I wasn’t expecting much. But I decided to use it on my kids’ laundry just to give it a chance, haha! Boy, was I in for a surprise.


Let’s get on with the results!

My kids clothes came out feeling, looking and smelling very clean. The best part was that the colors that I thought were already faded by wear popped right back after we used the powder detergent on them.

The powder easily dissolved in the water and even when I added a scoop when there were already clothes in the machine, I found no clumps of powder afterwards, something which is common when you use other brands.

And my fingers that had been suffering from the harsh chemicals from using the other leading laundry brands didn’t feel a single sting even when I was dipping them into the washing machine to get the clothes out and when I was rinsing and wringing them for air drying.

Takes out the light stains, but heavy stains need more time

Doing the laundry with Smart Steps liquid detergent was just as effective. The minor stains were all gone, however, the chocolate ones and the ones made with markers lightened but didn’t completely go away even when we tried to hand wash them with Smart Steps Detergent bar.

According to the product info, Smart Steps detergent products can take out stains from breast milk and baby poo, but says nothing about stains made by markers or paint.

I guess some stains just really require longer washing…. or better washers, haha!

You see, I’m one of those who rely heavily on a washing machine to do the washing. What I do is sort the clothes by color, dump them by pile on the soapy washing machine and wait to rinse them.

We used the Smart Steps detergent bar for the kids’ underwear and just like its powder and liquid variants, the briefs turned out looking and smelling clean.

The fabric softener

I also noticed that my kids clothes were softer especially after we used Smart Steps fabric softener.

With the old brand of detergent we used, our clothes turn stiff they can almost stand on their own if we let them, haha, so we would use tons of softener in them. 

With Smart Steps, we didn’t feel the need to put softener because the clothes turned out well after they were spun in detergent and rinsed, but I did, anyway, to try it. What I like about it is that the scent was mild.

What’s in Smart Steps Laundry products?

As you may have guessed by now, Smart Steps laundry products were created with babies’ safety in mind.  They are hypoallergenic and do not contain phosphates, dyes or any of those optical brighteners we usually hear advertised by popular brands.

If you want to protect your kids’ young skin, then you can try Smart Steps. The formula has none of those harmful chemicals that we fear may irritate the baby’s skin, but it’s strong enough to get the job done.

Other products by Smart Steps

We also got to try Smart Steps anti-mosquito patches which the kids enjoyed sticking on their arms, under their shirts. 

They loved choosing among the robot and alien designs and it didn’t smell weird. They didn’t mind having them on when we went to the park and when they attended their MAPEH classes because they smelled great.

What a great way to ward off Dengue mosquitoes!

The only product we didn’t get to use was the brand’s baby bottle cleanser. But the product briefing says that it is made out of plant-based ingredients and can easily be rinsed off.

So I’m confident to give it to a friend of mine who plans to bottle-feed her baby soon because I know that her baby will be safe.

Smart Steps products are available at Rustan’s Supermarket, Shopwise, Robinson’s Supermarket, Landmark, Waltermart and other supermarket and department stores nationwide.

For a more complete list of stores that carry Smart Steps, check out their website. You may also like Smart Steps on Facebook or follow Smart Steps on Twitter.

Special thanks to Ren, Emily and Carlo of Smart Steps for sending me their wonderful products for review.

October 3, 2016
by May De Jesus-Palacpac

On plagiarism: Are you the same tomato?

As a professional writer, I take plagiarism personally. 

I take pride in every work I publish, whether online or offline, whether it’s well-received or ignored completely, because I’ve put my time and my heart in every single one.

There are many ways to plagiarise online without seemingly having done so, and it’s easy to make excuses and keep a straight face while at it that confrontations become useless; but really, if you look within yourself, what does that make you?

If you want to grow in your skill, learn to care. Care for your readers and for what they are searching for. Write for them.

Don’t copy. Don’t rearrange someone else’s work then take credit for it. Don’t be a tomato!

Write in such a way that you are speaking to your readers from what you know. So you need to read and you need to read well. Watch the news. Be aware of your surroundings. Be aware of your industry. Be aware of the world your readers belong to.

Listen first.

The more you really know, the better you will write.

Then you don’t have to copy anyone.

October 2, 2016
by May De Jesus-Palacpac
1 Comment

The Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016: From Roots to Wings

The annual Philippine Homeschool Conference is one of the major events that I look forward to each year since I first attended the one in 2011. And I have to say that the organisation and the planning has come a long way.

Just this morning, I downloaded the free app  to make sure that we can make the most out of the activities and discussions lined up for the big event. Isn’t it amazing? Now there’s an app!


(READ: 1st HAPI Homeschoolers’ Talent Fair)

The title of this year’s conference, From Roots to Wings, which speaks of a well-thought of, well-planned list of discussions, as the homeschooling community in the Philippines has grown so much exponentially over the past few years.

Although there are a lot of new homeschooling families coming in (welcome, welcome!!), there is also as much number of seasoned homeschooling families coming back to get inspired and fueled as we continue our own homeschooling journeys.

(READ: Refueling the motors of the home schooling dad)

Suitable for any homeschooling stage

That’s why for this year, the organisers have come up with discussions suitable for any stage we’re at in our homeschooling.

So whether you’re just coming in to see if homeschooling is for your child or if your child is about to enter his teenage years and you need some wisdom on how to take off in your homeschool, this is the right conference to go to.

You’ll be able to join discussion groups and listen to valuable insights from local and international speakers, homeschooling advocates and homeschooling families, thus, the breakout sessions, aside from the main sessions.

You can ask questions, too.

(READ: Answers to common questions people ask about homeschooling)

2 heads are better than 1. #maps #geography #homeschoolers

A photo posted by May De Jesus-Palacpac (@fullyhousewifed) on

Topics and Speakers

This year, the Philippine Homeschool Conference has invited four keynote speakers to impart their experiences and knowledge on homeschooling.

There’s Deona Tan-chi and Joy Tan-chi Mendoza, who will take up the topic on Building a strong foundation. If you have not been reading Joy Mendoza’ s blog, Teach with Joy, yet, you’d better get to it, haha!

It’s one of my favorite blogs to read and draw inspiration from in homeschooling, parenting, marriage and family.

Deona, her mom, is one of the pioneers of the homeschooling movement here in the Philippines, having homeschooled Joy and her siblings at a time when homeschooling was unheard of as an alternative form of education here in the Philippines.

Listen to those who have gone ahead

Nowadays, there are hundreds of blogs on homeschooling, but it is from those who have finally released their children after years of homeschooling that you can find the most wisdom. There is so much to learn from Deona and Joy and I’m excited to listen to them again.

U.S.-based International speaker and Director of the Institute of Excellence in Writing, Andrew Pudewa, will be flying in to speak about Motivation: The Art and Science of helping children learn well.

Best selling author, international speaker and founder of Catholic Filipino Academy (CFA), Bo Sanchez, will talk about Wings to Soar: Leaving a Legacy for our children.

Other topics to look forward to

Breakout topics will include the ins and outs of homeschooling in the Philippines, laying the foundation in preschool, homeschooling the high school years, and transitioning to and from brick-and-mortar school.

And there is even a topic on finances.


PHC 2016 Media launch last September 7, 2016. Image courtesy of Milona Barraca.

One of the best things about these homeschool conferences is that it expands your support and resource community. I feel blessed to know other homeschooling families from all over the country. You’d be interested to know that there are homeschoolers who fly to Manila just to attend the annual homeschool conferences.

Many of these families are part of the Homeschoolers of the Philippines community on Facebook where we share links, new discoveries, lists of books or even swap materials when we can. It’s such a great and supportive community!

Workbooks time. #homeschoolers #homeschool

A photo posted by May De Jesus-Palacpac (@fullyhousewifed) on

Scholarships from some of the top homeschool providers

Homeschool providers, Peniel Integrated Christian Academy of Rizal, Inc., Homeschool Global, Catholic Filipino Academy, Kids World Integrated School, International British Academy, and Gopala’s Simple Moments in Learning Experience in partnership with the Homeschool Association of the Philippines (HAPI) are giving away scholarship grants to winning conference attendees.

From Roots to Wings: Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016 is organised by HAPI, in partnership with Philam Life. It will be held at SMX Convention Center at SM Aura Premier in BGC on October 22, 2016.


The price of a ticket to the conference is Php 1,000 per person, but there is a special discount price of Php 4,500 for each group of 5 attendees. Kids can join some cool kids’ activities for a fee. For more details and registration on From Roots to Wings: Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016, please visit the following links:

Website: www.educatingforlife.co
Event page: From Roots to Wings: Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016

September 26, 2016
by May De Jesus-Palacpac

Money 4 Life: Good debt, bad debt

I come from a family that frowns on any form of debt. Growing up, my parents would tell me that it’s okay if we had less properties than our friends because at least we don’t owe anything that can be taken away from us.

The only loan they had then was for the house that we were living in which they completed paying off in fifteen years.

I saw debt from my parents’ perspective. My father, who is a lawyer, represented many companies in cases involving huge debts. Some of my dad’s clients were people we personally knew, with children I grew up with. And I saw some of these families lose their properties and their businesses to bad debts, so the thought of getting into one terrified me until adulthood.


Pregnant, homeless, and in debt

In 2010, when I was 8 months pregnant with my third child and we couldn’t pay a Php 34,000 debt consisting of rent and bills, and personal loans that piled up,  I was beside myself with stress.  It was only Php 34,000 – very small when you think about it, but there I was, losing sleep, trying to figure out a way out of it.

To top it off, we were asked to move out of place we’ve called home for 7 years and we’ve exhausted all possible financial sources (translation: friends we could borrow from) we had at that time.

I remember calling my dad, sobbing and hugely embarrassed, admitting to him for the first time that we needed help.

It wasn’t just the Php 34, 000. For years, we struggled to make ends meet. The eviction became a turning point in our life. I don’t recall ever been as responsible with our money as much as I had been the year after that.

(Read: Choosing Insurance Policies at 40)

Not all debts are bad debts

The word “debt” is generally construed negatively in our society. Many Filipinos are still ill-educated in the area of finances and it’s unfortunate many of us still can’t identify between a good debt and a bad one.

So what am I saying here? I’m saying that not all debts are bad. At least, that’s what Aya Laraya said at the last session of Money 4 Life workshop that I attended.

According to Aya, there are good debts and bad debts, and it takes the right knowledge,  mindset and skills to leverage a good debt.

3 Debts to avoid

What are bad debts? Basically, these are money you loan to purchase things that usually have no long term benefit to you. Some examples of bad debts are:

1. Consumer goods

Examples of this type of debt are credit card debts procured through the buy now-pay two months later scheme, home credits, and the likes.

Some people apply for SSS loans to purchase electronic devices they do not really need.

Aya Laraya reiterates that using credit cards has its benefits such as being able to keep track of your expenses better. He shares that he had arranged a credit limit on his credit card based on the amount he can afford to spend for the month and does not go beyond that budget.

2. Emergency loans

Emergencies are inevitable which is why ideally, an emergency fund is established beforehand, instead of resorting to unplanned loans later on.

The problem with this is that a vast number of Filipinos have overlooked its importance which is why many find themselves buried neck-deep in debts due to medical and other personal emergencies.

3. Bad business debts

Examples of bad business debts are applying for a car loan with plans of renting it out via third-party companies to cover the monthly payment; or a housing loan to purchase a condominium unit with the intention of renting it out to cover the monthly amortization.

This is bad business because cars and houses depreciate in value and they come with expenses such as taxes and repairs. You’ll be spending more of the profit you were hoping to get in the long run.

What is a good debt?

A good debt is basically money you loan to invest on something that generates income or something of a long term value. So with that definition, Aya Laraya ticks off profitable business ventures and a house you intend to live in for a long time as examples of good debt.

(READ: Should we buy a house now?)

Another is listing your business in the stocks market, wherein you sell bonds to investors and you use their money to grow your business. Aya Laraya cites the Ayalas, Gokongwei and Henry Sy as good examples of successful use of investors’ money.


Speaking of the Ayalas and the Sys, we were informed that one of the newer products of Sun Life, the Captains Fund, is now a regular product. The Captains Fund lets you put your money on the companies of the most bankable and formidable industry names such as the two business tycoons above.

The Captains Fund is an option available to VUL (Variable Life Insurance) investors. It’s a product we’re currently discussing with our FA since we learned that Sun Life took it out of their for a limited time only line.

(READ: How we chose our financial advisor)

Going back to debts, a loan, no matter the purpose, needs careful study of facts and careful planning.

You need to ask yourself: Why are you borrowing money? Is it necessary? Have you looked into other options?

And most importantly, how will you pay?

It’s only wise to know what you’re getting into and what is required of you before you jump into anything, after all, most bad debts happen because we didn’t understand what we were doing in the first place.

This is one of those things where what they say about the more you know, the more prepared you can be applies.

The road to financial freedom often means taking out the blockades that stop you from reaching your goals. In this case – debts.

From our experience, the first step to get out of bad debt is to humble yourself, take responsibility for your mistakes and admit you need help. Then accept help and instructions from those who know better.

The roads will clear from there.

“Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house” Proverbs 24:7.

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